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New Internship Programme for Job Seekers with Learning Disabilities

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Dow held an event in Barry to launch an internship programme which will offer invaluable career development opportunities for candidates with learning disabilities in the local area.

Developed in conjunction with Cardiff & Vale College and Project SEARCH, an organisation specialising in assisted employment training and education programmes for individuals with disabilities, the internship programme will offer placements to 11 candidates, taking place from 23rd September 2019 until 2nd July 2020.

The placements will be located at Dow’s Barry site. Interns will rotate across a range of functions such as laboratories, manufacturing, quality, stores, administration, IT, logistics and Environmental Health & Safety. Under the guidance of Project SEARCH, Dow has constructed a newly designed training room and formed a dedicated team to support the interns as they navigate both their theoretical/classroom training, and practical work experience. The team includes a network of 26 mentors and leaders from Dow Silicones, as well as an onsite instructor and job coach from Cardiff & Vale College.

Project SEARCH was originally established in 1996 in the United States when founder Erin Riehle was frustrated in her search for employees to restock supplies at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and had the inspiration to turn her challenge into an opportunity for individuals with disabilities. The initial idea to bring Project SEARCH to Dow Silicones in the UK was sparked following a visit to the company’s Dow Midland office in Michigan, where the programme has been in successful operation for the past three years. Barry Site Director, Eduardo Gadea, decided to bring the programme to the UK – a resolution which has come to fruition 12 months later.

John Case, Country Manager for UK & Ireland, Dow said:

“The Project SEARCH internship programme aligns perfectly with Dow’s ambition to change the world for the better, as well as our commitment to building a diverse workforce with unique perspectives and backgrounds. We look forward to celebrating the launch of Project SEARCH and welcoming our interns in the coming week. We wish them all the best for their experience at our Barry site.”

Lily Beyer, Programme Specialist at Project SEARCH, said:

“Our goal at Project SEARCH is to secure competitive employment for people with disabilities. We rely on the partnership of companies like Dow to provide immersive and integrated experiences that will help candidates prepare for a successful future in the workplace. We are excited about the launch of the Project SEARCH internship programme with Dow Silicones, and confident about the positive impact the experience will provide for our candidates.”

The launch event was held at the Barry site, with around 80 attendees including representatives from the Welsh Government; Cardiff & Vale College; Cardiff University; local employers; as well as Project SEARCH interns, their families and Dow UK & Ireland employees.